My cowboy knows how much I love to coach and what an important role it plays in my life. This Christmas he gave me a copy of John Cook’s new book Dream Like a Champion. Over the last 17 years, Coach Cook has brought more than a love of volleyball to the Cornhusker State; he created a culture of greatness for women’s athletics. A short two weeks ago, Coach Cook led his Lady Huskers to their 4th National Championship title since becoming head coach in 2000. During his tenure, a state known for its unified love for football opened its heart to similarly embrace the Lady Husker volleyball team.
Dream Like a Champion is chalked full of wisdom not simply about the journey of coaching athletics but also how to inspire others to be successful on their journey of life. I found many, many ideas to ponder as I read the book, but my favorite chapter is entitled “Is God a Coach?”
Coach Cook points out that “God certainly has a lot of coach-like traits.”
God asks us:
- To be disciplined
- To treat others the way that we want to be treated
- To believe in something greater than ourselves
- To rebuild and improve our faith each year
And, He does this by “constantly teaching us new lessons and ways to remain humble.”
God helps us:
- To believe in ourselves
- To erase our doubts
- To provide a sense of hope not just during the good times, but more importantly during those times that we struggle.
He successfully “rebuilds us” as we travel the journey of life.
Coach Cook opens the chapter with the statement, “If I have learned anything from a lifetime of watching and coaching sports, it is that they are almost impossible to separate from spirituality.” As a volunteer coach, I have much fewer high level experiences mentoring athletes but I identified fully with every word written. God is present within me as I coach, and I see Him in the athletes that dedicate great effort to the sport that they love. There are times that I am blessed to work with kids who possess a strength that seems to come from a greater source — they believe, they work, and they execute at a level that confirms my faith in His presence.
Similarly, sometimes an athlete searching for an identity — a reason to believe that they have worth — crosses my path. The best moments of my coaching career come as the light comes on for those kids. When they find both a level of physical success as well as the mental ability to believe, it redefines their perspective and inspires them to want to make a difference — not just for themselves, but for others. In those moments, I see God’s hand and I am filled with joy that He chose me to play a role. It inspires me to keep looking for ways to disciple in my community and get through the inevitable hard times when I am personally challenged.
Coach Cook suggests creating and sharing a 25 word mantra that sums up your philosophy. This serves as guidance on the journey as well as creates accountability during daily coaching chores. As we quickly approach a New Year, I am taking his suggestion to heart.
Anne’s life philosophy:
Pack your Faith to compete with Grace. Make goals. Create plans. Be disciplined. Believe fully. Inspire others. Embrace the discomfort of the road to excellence.
I highly recommend Dream Like A Champion — regardless of whether or not you actively wear a coach’s hat. We all have moments in life where we can inspire, lead, and make a difference in someone else’s life. Take advantage of the gift of God’s love by sharing it with someone else.